As part of the campus learning commons, McCormick Library is a vital resource that has continued to evolve and adapt to changing priorities. This library update project was the design result of fewer bookshelves and more digital reference materials and technology resources for hands-on learning and collaboration opportunities.
HACC recently halved its physical collection of books and periodicals paving the way for relocating the Campus Tutoring Center into the library. The next step was updating the interior environment. Reworking the overall space layout allowed for comfortable coexistence of quiet, private study areas and group collaboration spaces. This involved adding individual study zones and group project meeting rooms, as well as integrating flexible technology accommodations in all areas. The library updates also reinforced HACC branding, referencing campus standards for both colors and maintenance preferences.
Library Updates to Enhance Learning Commons / Group Study Opportunities
Collaboration cubes and soft seating options were introduced to accommodate varied student needs. Two new group study rooms were added in the center of the second floor. This helped to define and separate the different tutoring and learning commons areas arranged around them. The group study rooms have solid end walls and semi-transparent side walls with sliding glass doors on one side.
Flexible furniture systems, including mobile whiteboards and modular workstations, were a priority. Replacement carpeting extended under the existing stacks to allow for future rearrangement or further reduction of physical materials. Booth-style seating and both high-top and low tables accommodate different student preferences and uses. The finish upgrades also addressed the need for enhanced sound absorption, particularly with the inclusion of open tutoring areas. New acoustical panels meet this functional requirement while adding visual appeal by extending color and texture to the walls.
Quiet Spaces Still Needed as Part of Library Update
Students highly valued the second floor of McCormick Library as the only space on campus designated as quiet study space. Due to appealing views at the front of the building, students tended to gravitate to furniture near the wall of windows on that side of the building for quiet reading and study.
The design reinforces this area as the quiet study space on the floor. The renovation introduced a new solid glass partition to create a designated quiet area that is acoustically separated from other spaces, particularly the collaboration zones on the floor. The glass wall allows light to flow through into other areas while providing views into the space inviting student use. Rather than seating groups, the quiet room has individual seating with options for enhanced visual privacy. Solo seating with a privacy wing is meant to be oriented so that the privacy wing faces the interior. Acoustical wall panels were also added in this area to maintain a quiet and comfortable learning commons option.
Muhlenberg College’s Career Center features a mix of offices, flexible meeting spaces, and impromptu gathering spaces. The new Career Center is part of the expansion and enhancement of The J. Conrad and Hazel J. Seegers Union.
Expanding into the Future
The Seegers Union expansion consists of an additional 42,000 square feet for classrooms and provides needed space for the Career Center. Located at the corner of Chew Street and Academic Row, the building offers an inviting entry to encourage student engagement. Glass walls at the ground level highlight the activity space and celebrate the active engaging space. Along the Chew Street elevation, a new terrace is integrated to emphasize indoor/outdoor connections.
A three-story addition will provide a home for the College’s Career Center. The new space in Seegers will allow the Career Center to provide more robust professional development programs to both students and alumni. A combination of multi-functional gathering spaces, virtual interview rooms, and technology-ready seminar and training rooms creates a dynamic and vibrant setting. Both internal resources and community business connections can utilize these areas.
Career Center Design Features Flexibility
The Center provides a diverse mix of offices, flexible meeting spaces, and impromptu gathering spaces. Here, students can polish a resume as well as prepare for interviews with prospective employers. Two large flexible classrooms have the option to be used individually or combined for larger gatherings. This space is accessed off the hall adjacent to breakout space and is usable by other departments even when the Career Center is closed.
Many unique common areas with flexible furniture, soft seating, and interactive technology foster a variety of working environments. Students and alumni from all disciplines can work independently or with others. The meeting rooms and seminar spaces also support and enhance the Career Center’s experiential programs. The Career Road Trips program introduces students to alumni-connected organizations in diverse career fields such as media, finance, sciences and the arts. This allows for expanded networking opportunities during Alumni Week and connects students with alumni who studied the same majors.
This $20 million renovation and retrofitting project forms the centerpiece of a multi-faceted academic, entrepreneurship and housing initiative. The mixed-use academic center will foster unique living and learning opportunities for students, while serving as a community resource for economic development.
Adaptive Re-use for Mixed-Use Development
A former office building is being converted into a 260,000 SF mixed-used resource for Alvernia University and downtown Reading. Plans for CollegeTowne include a business trading lab, classrooms, labs, esports facilities, student housing, a new engineering program, and a business incubator. Renovations are underway, with a Phase 1 opening planned for fall 2021.
The ground floor redesign will feature a community gathering place and lounge area, as well as space for the university’s business and communication programs. It will also be home to the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship’s student-powered business incubator. Renovations on the lower level include a collaborative student gathering space, high-tech classrooms,spaces for the university’s esports team and cutting-edge labs for three new engineering programs. The fourth and fifth floors will be retrofitted for student housing, initially designed to house 66 students, with buildouts available to accommodate up to 200 students.
A Beacon for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement
The building façade respectfully honors the City of Reading Historic District Ordinance remembering significant architectural features of the original structure while creating a new entry beacon for CollegeTowne. The complementary features signify the collaborative opportunities between the University and the city while enhancing safety and defining a community courtyard feature.
As a mixed-use center, the commercial Penn Street presence is strengthened with community tenant partners that support the developments’ mission while the residential components front the more residential Court Street façade. The programming of the initial phase allows for future growth in residential units, academic programs, and community engagement.
Flexible Academic Center Design for Hands-on Learning
This building is designed to be an experiential teaching and learning space with flexible, modular classrooms equipped with the latest technology. Students will collaborate with faculty members in new learning spaces including the trading floor, a state-of-the-art media studio, podcasting stations, publishing studios and esports spaces. A number of the spaces will be open or feature glass walls to provide transparency for showcasing many of the activities taking place in the building core.
Innovative Funding Sources for Mixed-Use Academic Center
Described as a “landmark redevelopment project,” CollegeTowne is partially funded through a $4 million grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant. The project also received a $300,000 grant from the Wyomissing Foundation to support the student powered business incubator, the flagship program through the university’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. Awarded over three years, this grant will facilitate new staff and student fellow positions, training and resource expansion for incubator clients.
Community Resource for Economic Development
CollegeTowne is a strategy and model for championing economic redevelopment. Through partnerships and collaborations with the City of Reading and local businesses and organizations, Alvernia serves as a strategic enabler for strengthening the local economy downtown. Starting with purchasing a mostly vacant building and then adding academic programming, a business incubator and eventually student housing, the project is expected to foster engagement and energy in downtown Reading.
Flexible Design Solutions for Student-Led LGBTQ+ Organization
Interior renovations to the The Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) space included new furniture and finishes to create a flexible and inviting floor plan for organizing and hosting events, a collaborative workspace for meetings, and an overall comfortable environment for socializing and studying. Technology was included in the meeting space for easy plug-in and presentation capabilities. An array of soft seating areas were provided throughout the suite to accommodate individual study and group gatherings. It was important for the space to be appealing to all students, reflecting the student-centered mission of this organization.
“Living Room of the College”
The student-led SAGA organization moved to a more prominent campus location, the Steinman College Center. The Center is a student-run facility that, according to F&M’s website, “acts as the ‘living room’ of the College – a place where students, faculty, professional staff and guests meet and share a variety of social, educational, cultural and recreational experiences.”
Photography Credit: Nathan Cox Photography
Big Changes in a Small Timeframe
Continuing multi-phased student housing updates that have taken place at Franklin & Marshall College over five summers, the renovations to Schnader Hall had to be completed when students would not be in the building. This condensed renovation schedule required nimble planning so that students would be able to return in time for the fall semester. The effort was assisted by extensive preconstruction efforts including a design process that started at the conclusion of the prior phase. The lobby, study lounges, restroom, corridors, and resident rooms all received a refresh.
A New Outlook for Older Student Housing
Like Franklin & Marshall College itself—originally founded in 1787, but moving forward and adapting to modern changes—Schnader Hall sits at a junction, separating the residential quad from the main academic areas of the College. It was important, during the design of the housing renovations, that Schnader Hall remain a place that students would want to both live and study. Through careful and imaginative renovation design, approximately 20 extra beds were able to be comfortably added while maintaining student safety and privacy. To complete the residence hall transformation into a completely new space, Schnader Hall as a whole received updates of bright colors and energetic accents.
Comfort and ADA Compatibility
Because the student population is now more diverse than ever, special consideration was taken to add all-gender, ADA accessible bathrooms in each hall. These bathrooms share sinks, but provide separate, private toilet and shower areas. In addition, excessive doorways and the walls around them were removed or reworked, creating a more open, welcoming space for all students. To add to student comfort, new MEP systems were introduced.
Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography
From Auto Parts Store to Restored 19th Century Landmark Building
This adaptive reuse project transformed a condemned building into a beautiful multi-use cultural resource. In addition to the main recital hall, the building also houses offices for the Honors Program, Campus Ministry and Community Services, a student lounge and a meditation chapel. Working entirely within the existing envelope, the refurbished building features extensive interior detailing and casework, with environmentally friendly cork flooring.
The 19th century landmark was originally built in 1884 as a meeting house for the growing city of Williamsport and most recently was being used as an auto parts store. Lycoming College originally purchased the property with the intention of making a parking lot. However, a financial gift to the college facilitated a new vision for the solid 19th century brick building.
Multi-Use Resource for the College and Surrounding Community
The dramatic transformation incorporates pieces of the college’s history including terra cotta medallions from a former campus art and music conservatory and a stained glass window rescued from another campus building. Flexible seating was utilized for the recital hall to accommodate a wide range of programming for up to 100 people on the first floor with an additional 20 seats in a balcony viewing area. The recital hall has become a vibrant, acoustically-friendly addition to the campus, well received by the Lycoming College music program and the surrounding community.
Photo Credit: Michael Mutmansky Photography
Significant façade renovations helped the college enhance its visual impact within the existing urban setting. The new facade employs light to create a dynamic color display. To maximize the lighting effects, vertical building columns were enclosed by seamless metal. Metal sunscreens were installed at each window at a 90-degree angle to create a sun-generated display of ever-changing shadows. An uninviting concrete overhang was replaced with a curved canopy to provide a panoramic view of an interior art gallery. RLPS provided conceptual design and Tippits/Weaver Architects provided design execution.
Photo Credit: Larry Lefever Photography
A Place of Opportunity
York College of Pennsylvania has a very strong business program, but the building in which it was housed needed updating and significant expansion to accommodate all of its faculty and desired programming. Located close to local York businesses and corporations, the program offered its enrolled students many advantages but needed contemporary classrooms, trading labs and support spaces with built-in flexibility to adapt as the curriculum advances. The design result was a five-story addition and renovations to house all business administration faculty in one building and facilitate active, hands-on learning experiences and spontaneous collaboration.
Connection to the Campus
The building needed to display outwardly what was going on inside. A sleek corporate design was selected, but it had to fit in aesthetically with the other brick buildings on campus. Due to the existing building’s location on the campus quad, the expansion was situated so that all angles of approach are welcoming and connected to the center of campus. The end result is a primarily brick façade facing the campus quad and merging with the other buildings, with refined metal and glass surfaces facing outwards, capitalizing on the city views.
A Modern Setting for Modern Students
The inside of the building features an expansive two-story lobby equipped with a NASDAQ ticker. Further inside are nine smart classrooms with seating for 40 students each, a 150-seat auditorium, a commerce lab, and a corporate training center. Other additions include offices, collaborative research areas, and breakout rooms that promote spontaneous learning. The building is capped with Yorkview Hall, a multipurpose space enclosed in glass, capable of seating 300 people for diverse events. Yorkview Hall opens out onto terraces with panoramic views of the city of York.
Award: American School & University 2014 Architectural Portfolio Outstanding Design
Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography
A former gymnasium, natatorium and classroom facilities were renovated and expanded. The main element of the new Performing Arts Center is a 750-seat theater with stage and full fly loft. The building includes a second “black box” performance space, as well as classrooms below the theater at a basement level. Back of house spaces include a green room, changing rooms, a scenery shop and storage areas. The adjacent former gymnasium structure was renovated into classrooms, offices and support spaces to form the Humanities Center which includes 26 classrooms, large group instruction area, learning resource area and café.
Photo Credit: Larry Lefever Photography
The interior refresh of this residence hall was completed during the 11 week, summer break. Working inside the constraints of the existing space, study lounges, corridors, and over 100 resident rooms received new furniture and finishes. Excessive corridor doorways were removed for a more open and unified residential space. Special considerations were made to add gender neutral ADA accessible bathrooms. Subsequent interior refreshes continue in additional housing during summer breaks.
Photo Credit: Larry Lefever Photography